PHYS 521: Advanced Quantum Mechanics

Mon/Wed/Fri 2:30 – 3:20 pm – Phillips 247


Instructor: Prof. Christian Iliadis (office PH270; Ph.: 962-3016; email:; webpage:; office hours: Fri 3:30-4:30 pm, or by appointment.
What this course is about: We will focus on how quantum mechanics can be applied to real-world situations in atomic physics, nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, and astrophysics. We will mainly cover time-independent perturbation theory, variational method, WKB approximation, and time-dependent perturbation theory.
Prerequisites: PHYS 321 or permission of instructor.
Attendance: The course depends on your initiative and enthusiasm and thus I expect you to attend all scheduled classes. Absence from an exam will result in a grade of zero on that examination unless an official written explanation is presented. No make up exams will be given unless special arrangements are made before a scheduled exam. It is very important that your class notes are complete (i.e., copy everything from the whiteboard to your notes), since the class discussion will differ from the textbook. Very important: under no circumstances should you sleep during class.
On the use of electronic devices: The use of cellphones, iPads, or similar, for texting, emailing, web browsing, skyping, facetiming, making a phone call, etc., is strictly prohibited when class is in session. If you are found doing any of the above during class, I will likely ask you to leave the lecture room. You may use your laptop/iPad for taking notes only.
Honor code: Your full participation and observance of UNC-CH’s Honor code is expected. All academic work in this course, including homework and written assignments, is to be your own work, unless otherwise specifically provided. It is your responsibility, if you have any doubt, to confirm whether or not collaboration is permitted.
Textbook: “Introduction to Quantum Mechanics”, D.J. Griffiths (2nd edition). Note: my lecture notes differ significantly from the textbook!
Homework: Homework is due one week after the assignment sheet is handed out. Please do not ask me direct questions about the homework. Late homework will not be accepted. I encourage you to work together on solving the homework problems. However, for obvious reasons, you may not copy the homework from each other.
Examinations: There will be one midterm exam and the final exam. Dates are listed below. The final exam will be cumulative. All exams are of closed book format and, in particular, no formula sheet is allowed. You are supposed to bring only a pen and a calculator to the exams. I will not answer any questions in class before or after handout of an exam.
Projects: Two projects are required of each student:
(1) an oral presentation on a topic related to advanced quantum mechanics. You can also chose your own topic, but you need to discuss your choice in advance with me.
(2) a paper, about 5 pages long, written on the same topic as your presentation.
Details on the class projects can be found below and more instructions will be provided in class.
Grades: The final grade will be based on the midterm (15%), oral presentation (20%), term paper (15%); homework (25%), and final exam (25%). There will be no extra credit in this course.
Midterm: Wednesday, October 9.
Presentations: Friday, Nov. 15, at 2:30 – 3:20 pm and 4:30 – 6:30 pm; Friday, Nov. 22, at  2:30 – 3:20 pm and  6:00 – 8:00 pm.
Class paper: Monday, Nov. 25.
Final exam: Friday, Dec. 6, 4-7 pm.
No class: Mon 09/02; Fri 10/18; Wed 11/27; Fri 11/29.
Field trips: TBA.
I reserve the right to make changes on this syllabus.


1. You will be working in teams of two students. Both of you will receive the same grade for the presentation, but separate grades for the term paper.
2. Each team has to chose a topic on advanced quantum mechanics of its own choice. Examples for topics are listed below. You may also pick a section in the textbook that will not be covered in class. If you intend to chose a topic that is neither on the list below nor part of the textbook, you need to obtain my approval.
3. Each presentation on a given topic should be 20 minutes long (10 minutes for each student). I will schedule your presentation. You can use your laptop or write on the board. The format is entirely up to you.
4. You have to write a paper of about 5 pages in length on the same topic as your presentation. Note that it is due some time before the final exam (check the syllabus).
5. You are on your own concerning the literature search. I regard this as part of your literature research.

Suggestions (that may influence the grading):
1. Provide a brief overview on literature and history.
2. Mention experimental observations, if any (how does the phenomenon manifests itself in experimental data?).
3. Explain theoretical techniques and models.
4. Chose examples.
5. What are the open questions (prospects for future research)?

Please be careful (these will almost certainly influence the grading):
1. You need to comprehend the topic independently from the instructor.
2. Try to present the topic in a clear and systematic manner so that your fellow students will be able to comprehend the material.
3. Do not copy complete sections from books or articles (provide references instead).
4. Reformulate the topic in your own words.
5. Try to avoid a typical “read-and-present” situation. Instead consider: (i) where are the limits of the theory/idea/concept? (ii) what are the fundamental problems this concept addresses? (iii) be critical of existing ideas! 

Example topics:
Lamb shift, Hyperfine structure of hydrogen, Stark and Zeeman effects, Hydrogen molecule and variational method, Bose-Einstein Condensates, Alpha-particle decay,
Thermonuclear fusion, Nuclear weapons, Tunneling in solids, Band structure in semiconductors, Quantum Dots, Quantum computing, Neutrino oscillations, Lyman alpha-forest in cosmology, Lasers